Can you analyze and comment this little piece of text extracted from “The General History of Virginia,New England,and the Summer Isles” by John Smith?Can you analyze and comment this little...

Can you analyze and comment this little piece of text extracted from “The General History of Virginia,New England,and the Summer Isles” by John Smith?

Can you analyze and comment this little piece of text extracted from “The General History of Virginia,New England,and the Summer Isles” by John Smith?

“But almighty God (in His divine providence) had mollified the hearts of those stern barbarians with compassion.”


What is going on in this fragment? What does it mean and suppose in the context it happened? Can you comment this piece of text? I mean, could you write a short composition in which there can be seen the relationship between what you write and the text to really comment on the text focusing on the paragraph, on what the text means?

If you could help me to understand better this text, you can make paralelism. I want a commentary of this text, not plot summaries of the whole work.

 

4 Answers | Add Yours

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I view this quote as Smith's way of saying that they would have been on harm's way if it had not been that God somehow acted on behalf of the Europeans by calming down the Native Americans. What is significant in this quote is that it shows the intense fear and intimidation that the colonists felt about the Natives..And who is to blame them? However, agreeing with the previous post, it also shows how sure they were about the fact that they are the chosen ones, in comparison, and that God changed the "evil and barbarian natives" to ease the journey of the colonists. It is quite a prejudiced quote, but it is understandable given its time and place in history.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think it is important to note that Smith sees God on the side of the Europeans and believes that God is using the Indians solely as tools to help them.  This statement implies that God acted on the hearts of the Indians so as to make them help the settlers.  This shows that Smith thinks that the Europeans are the ones who are important in God's eyes and that the Indians only matter insofar as they can be useful to the Europeans.

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

“But almighty God (in His divine providence) had mollified the hearts of those stern barbarians with compassion.”

This quote from Smith's journals can best be translated as: God, who knows and provides for His people, has softened the hearts of the Indians [Native Americans] to be compassionate to us [the Jamestown settlers]. In context, this is kind of an odd thing for Smith to say because he causes more than his share of enmity between the natives and the settlers. But, as the post above mentions, Smith is prone to exaggeration so it is often difficult to tell what really happened and what Smith wants the world to think happened.

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The "stern barbarians" of whom Smith writes were the Indians encountered by the colonists at Jamestown. The Jamestown colony would have starved during its first year had the local Indians not provided food for them, hence Smith's comment about their "compassion" which he assumed was caused by divine intervention. What Smith did not realize (nor did other colonists) is that a large part of Indian culture was to be kind to strangers. The Indians were only acting in a way natural to them to help the starving Europeans. Smith (often given to hyperbole) gave credit to God who presumably softened their hearts.

Since the Indians were not European, did not wear clothes in the summer, and did not speak a known language Smith--and all other Europeans--assumed them to be "barbarians." Sadly, the relationship did not last long. The colonists stole Indian food when theirs ran short, and allowed their hogs to run wild; the hogs often destroyed Indian crops and when the Indians killed the hogs, the colonists blamed the Indians.

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